The one thing indie authors do that piss me off

103-cartoon-very-sad-crying-man-shrugging-man-public-domainI’m vexed today. I just discovered a pretty cool book online. I like it. I wrote a 5 star review. It has an ugly cover, and mine is the 2nd review, and it was published 2 years ago. Then I looked over some of my other reviews for books I’ve liked – indie books without a big following, that I discovered accidentally, that blew me away. Books that should be much more successful, but nobody’s reading them, which makes me really sad. Most of them have subpar covers and only a couple of reviews.

What are the authors thinking, that you can just put a book out there, after years of working on it, and just forget about it? With ugly covers and 2 or 3 reviews, an author clearly hasn’t done any smart marketing at all (since those two things should be the very basis of any marketing campaign – trying to get press or readers without a nice cover and many good reviews is a waste of time).

You know what’s even more annoying? I’ve offered to help a few of these books by giving them free, improved covers. Some of them have turned me down, thinking theirs is good enough, not being bothered to care. I’ve written blog posts lauding their books trying to get more reviews and spread the word, but why am I doing all their marketing for them?

I wish I had enough creativity that I could crank out books and move on to my next project, letting them sit online but be invisible, overlooked and unread by everybody.

Damn it authors, take some pride in your work and at least give your book a chance! People have got to read it, before they can like it – and if they aren’t reading it, you aren’t trying hard enough to overcome reader resistance (which isn’t really that hard to do.)

Overcoming reader resistance
  1. Have a decent cover. No excuse, no exceptions. It doesn’t have to cost much, or anything. Just put some effort into it.
  2. Set a very low price, especially in the beginning.
  3. Have a winning, compelling summary (this takes a lot of thought and revision)
  4. Include keywords in the description, in the title, or somewhere (what genre is your book? Topics? Locations? Subject Matter?)
  5. Have at least 5 positive reviews. Don’t stop asking for them until you get them.

If you have all that and you start getting bad reviews, at least you tried. Even a book with mixed reviews can sell well.

If you’re getting more bad than good, think about pulling it down and rewriting. But if you’re getting good reviews, you can start marketing the shit out of it (it’s all a numbers game. Put it in front of more people and it could snowball into a bestseller).

This is mostly about developing a powerful backstory around yourself as an author and the book, as well as planning events, giveaways, etc.

Got it? Don’t just slap it up there and go back to your day job.


About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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